What we’re not good at


Life around home / Friday, May 29th, 2020

Last week, I promised to share with you some of the things our family is not good at. The problem with this exercise is that anyone who knows us could pop off three things without thinking (other things) (things we don’t even know about) that would be truer than my own evaluation. So these are not necessarily the main things we’re not good at. But still, we’re not good at them.

This is not going to be one of those cutesy posts that says we’re not good at things like “holding grudges” or “ignoring people in need.” This is going to be actual confession, so hold onto your hat.

We are not good at…

1. Staying even-keeled

We seem to be the family that attracts emotional and circumstantial drama. Emergency surgeries, traumatic goodbyes, meltdowns over chores. If you need someone to make a big deal about it, we’re here. Fostering doesn’t help. Having a difficult child or two doesn’t help. But still.

We are connected and emotive, but the downside of that is that we have first graders (or maybe third graders) who burst into tears when someone else gets the good pillow for reading time at school. We expect to talk through everything. We don’t like being misunderstood, and can’t let it go until we explain. We don’t take correction meekly. We’re a little too physical with our feelings. We aren’t that good at self-regulation.

I’m not sure why this is, and I’ve spent a lot of time as a mom trying to fix it, only to realize my children came by it honestly. Each of us has sustained numerous theatrical collapses in public. Except my husband. But I don’t see how it could have come from my side of the family.

2. Healing our hurts and history

We forgive, but we don’t forget.

This is a real bummer of a trait to have in a friend or a family member, and I am sorry.

3. Living and letting live

My kids inherited from one of their parents a strong sense of truth and justice. (Hi husband. I am looking at you.) It matters too much what others are thinking and doing – not about me (that concern resides on my side of the fam) but about life and the Bible and the training of our siblings and who should get what allowance, and the latest scientific discovery and what the real issues were with our treatment of the Native Americans.

Others who are wrong should be enlightened. We are natural teachers: code for not always judging rightly whether others are interested in learning. We (and I use that word loosely) are not that good at holding our tongues and truly honoring the opinions of others, when our superior intelligence perceives that they are less accurate opinions.

(I told you this was going to be real confession.)

4. Keeping kittens alive

I can raise expensive dogs, but our cats, whom we also love, fend for themselves. We pet and coddle them, and then accidentally let them wander off or get run over by cars or caught in neighbors’ traps up in the woods.

5. Accepting unconditional love

In our best times, we do know how to give it. But we rarely feel we are worthy of receiving it. We measure ourselves by our successes and failures, and work hard for love, even when it is given to us freely.

This we are working on. Hard, of course.


Okay, I’m bored with confessing. Thank you for listening. I would ask you to take your own turn, but you didn’t agree to this exercise and I don’t believe you would do it.

17 Replies to “What we’re not good at”

  1. “But I don’t see how it could have come from my side of the family.” So hilarious, and also a topic much bantered between my husband and myself. I usually tell him it couldn’t possibly have come from me, because I still have it… I recently had 6 extras alongside my own 6 for several days, making for a household that temporarily contained four sets of “twins” age 11, 10, 8, and 6, plus a 5, 4, 3, and almost 2 yr. old. All of a sudden I saw things in my kids that I really, REALLY need to work on. Yes, by all means stand up for truth and justice, and also by all means, sometimes it’s ok to live and let live, because truly, it doesn’t matter who has the biggest blanket for bedtime, so long as everyone has one that’s big enough?! And when it was all done, my own 6 kids suddenly felt like a piece of cake again. Even if the cake is one with a few tough nuts in it.

  2. Thank you for being open and honest so I’ll share 5 things we aren’t good at:

    1. Choosing the best time for deep discussions to air our grievances. Somehow someone will have an issue with another family member and for whatever reason talks will start when one of us is ready for bed. These talks will usually has someone in tears. These discussions are really hard sometimes and I’m not looking forward to a talk I need to have with one of my daughters over a spiritual matter. I’m not sure it will end well.

    2. Keeping the house clean. No matter how hard we try, there is a mess that needs to be taken care of.

    3. Saying no to giving our cat treats. Our cat is a little overweight but it’s so hard to say no to her when she stands on her hind legs and taps us on our leg. Or when she runs to the pantry where the treats are kept and stands up to try to reach the knob. Now we know why they are called Temptations!

    4. Not always having nutritious meals. We have picky eaters even though we are all adults. I confess we don’t always get the daily recommended service of fruits and veggies. I really need to work on that.

    5. Having daily devotions as a family. I’m not sure why or how it happened but we somehow stopped doing devotions. We all have our quiet time individually but it would be wonderful to have that time together again.

  3. A mentor recently observed how those expertly trained in a particular field can listen to someone else bloviate on a topic that is clearly beyond the speaker’s expertise. They present an air of affability, not quite agreement, but kindness and interest while knowing the speaker is operating out of his depth. This I have not mastered.

    I don’t consider myself to have a strong sense of truth and justice. I think of it as a natural allergic reaction to bullsh#t.

  4. Here is my confession:
    Go back and read #1 Staying even-keeled!!!
    Next read #2 Healing our hurts and history!
    Especially the 2nd paragraph in “Living and letting live!”
    #4 we are to good at “multiplying” cats when the mom and dad don’t really enjoy them… unless they are around to catch the mice and STAY AWAY FROM OUR LEGS! 🙂
    #5 We are quite good at learning how to do something and then say, “Did that! Now what shall we try next?” Or “Who wants to just milk cows! (First tho’, why don’t we milk 90 instead of 50!) Lets grow sweet corn (several acres! the more the better!) and several acres broccoli! And have a little self-serve store! And raise all the meats to put into it… chicken, beef, pork, and lamb. And have more laying hens so we have extra eggs for the store! Cheese!! yes of course we’ll make that! Then lets make sure all our children have plenty of pets or animals to take care of;
    90 sheep for the boys, some rabbits, parakeets, chickens, a horse, tiny kittens, chicks, lambs…. and by the way, any of those may be living in the house at some point because of a broken leg, or whatever, that needs to be doctored. Well, not the horse! But… you get the picture!
    So that takes care of animal life. Lets try growing our own wheat for bread making. And corn to grind for pon haus. Soap making and all kinds of other diy cosmetics as well as learning to knit/crochet will keep us from getting bored !!! …… Course we get our school work done!
    We try to be good parents! My husband does try to be a great Pastor in the Church!
    Now I’m weary of confessing and need to get to work!! There are always more messes to clean up …..and food to make! Blessings Shari! Thanks for not thinking you have to be perfect before helping others. Its an encouragement to me!

  5. Two thoughts: it is often the things people don’t do well that most endear them to me, and I think The Boss should start a blog.

  6. Thank you, Shari and commenters! Apparently this was just what I needed to cheer me up this morning. I was wondering if #3 was related to geographical origins (seems somehow familiar), so thanks for your input, Dorcas.

  7. Well. Here goes. We are not good at: 1) Being flexible and riding chaos. 2) Cheerfully giving our time to other people’s projects 3) Interacting with our church family 4) Listening to other people’s nonsense. 5) Using really good table manners. Now I want to defend us and tell you what we’re good at 🙂
    I just realized that commentors Vivian, Dorcas, your husband, and my husband all come from Oregon state, which is interesting.
    Your posts always make me want to ask another question. This time I’m wondering what happens in your home when you talk about taking a new foster placement and one of your children is set against it.
    Thanks so much for this post.

  8. What are we not good at? 1,3, and 5. I’d say one of my biggest failures is lack of organization (and discipline?). I’m hoping that means I’m flexible, though this current crisis has me questioning that. 🙃

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